A statement by the head of the US armed forces in Africa, during a press conference, that their intelligence spotted the deployment of Russian special forces to an aerodrome on the north-western coast of Egypt.
According to Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the leading American military commander on the continent, these forces are designated for undercover operations in the east of Libya and specifically as support to the government of Libyan strongman, Khailfa Haftar.
When asked in congress, by the Senate foreign relations committee, Waldhauser testified: “Russia is trying to exert influence on the ultimate decision of who and what entity becomes in charge of the government inside Libya.”
Moscow, in return, is denying the allegation of its growing clout in the north African conflict zone. Although, there has been a public rapprochement and support in recent years, as Haftar made several visits to the Kremlin and met with a multitude of Russian officials.
Issues in the Region
Libya has been in turmoil, since the NATO intervention following the Arab Spring in 2011 to oust longstanding dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The power vacuum that emerged has since been ravaged by multiple factions, ranging from UN backed entities to radical Islamic organizations.
The two main players are the UN brokered Government of National Accord in the West and the government of Field Marshal Khailfa Haftar in the East. With Trump, as the new president in the White House, his foreign policy and specifically in the middle east is clearly closer to Moscow then the previous administration, which puts the pentagon at odds with their own government.
Being faced with the threat of radical Islam under the auspices of the Islamic state, Haftar is gaining momentum on the international scene and increasingly been support from politicians in the Western hemisphere as well as countries in the region like Egypt and the UAE.